A judge will rule in a lawsuit brought by Dezer Development’s former COO, seeking millions in company profits.
Andrew Chesnick alleged that the Dezers created a toxic work environment and that he is owed more than $10 million of profits from projects that include Porsche Design Tower and Residences by Armani Casa, Bisnow reported. The suit, filed against members of the Dezer family and companies linked to them, alleges breach of contract and unjust enrichment. It was filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court in 2017.
Gil Dezer called the lawsuit a “shakedown,” while Chesnick alleges that the hostile work environment led him to resign.
Gil Dezer, who referred to Chesnick as a “douchebag” and a “fucking moron” in emails, admitted in a deposition that his management style involves yelling at employees. He admitted that he may have threatened to kill Chesnick, calling it a “good motivator,” according to Bisnow.
Chesnick began working for Dezer as a consultant in 2012 to take over the Solis Resort Spa & Residences site in Sunny Isles, which was facing foreclosure.
The Dezers contend that Chesnick made mistakes. Michael Dezer, in a deposition, said, “He fucks up deals.” But if they had fired Chesnick before his incentive compensation had fully vested, he could still be eligible for some of it, according to Bisnow.
Among Chesnick’s mistakes, Dezer said he exposed the company by allowing construction without insurance. He alleged that Chesnick failed to pay the licensing commission for the Porsche Design Tower brand name. Chesnick also allegedly advised that a development site Dezer had been interested in buying could not be zoned residential, which turned out to be false and led to a competitor acquiring the site.
Chesnick reportedly declined an offer in 2015 to reduce his profit sharing, and then resigned, joining Terra as CFO. The Dezers’ attorney argued that Chesnick breached his employment contract by negotiating with Terra before he resigned.
Both sides presented their closing arguments via a Zoom trial this week. [Bisnow] — Katherine Kallergis